Eastbourne international Folkdance Festival, Langley School and St Catherine's College (formerly Bishops Bell School) Eastbourne. Organised by Robin James and Maureen and Graham Knight.

Notice displayed in all toilets at Eastbourne International Dance Festival 2015/16, concerning dancers being 'too familiar' with them.

I have attended EIFF for probably 6 years (need to check).

In that time there have been (to my recollection) no complaints made to me by dancing partners except a few light-hearted 'slow down' comments when I was swinging them. Indeed, quite a few women in 2016 asked me for dances (more details here).

The only criticism of my dancing I would accept, both in respect of Eastbourne and other festivals (and in respect of local clubs also) is that I generally only ask my 'favourite' partners for dances. Some other women (so I am told) then feel left out and can become resentful - one or two even tell me so. But I can't be in three places at once and I prefer dancing primarily with the most competent, playful and/or attractive women - that is surely permitted?

In 2014 (check date) I had a badly sprained right arm at EIFF and was unable to use this to support women whilst swinging them around - thus I had to use both arms around their waists. The vast majority accepted this with no issues - a few were less understanding and decidedly grumpy.

A letter in STS summarised the event. (add link). This led to a reaction by 'the committee' and the following notice appeared in all the toilets (of all places!) across all EIFF venues in 2015/16. I simply continued to dance much as I always have done, albeit slowing down as the years passed!

eiff2015crop.jpg (107150 bytes)

Several of my dance partners in 2015 thought this notice was some sort of wind-up - they couldn't imagine what the fuss was about.

To my recollection I have never had a woman tell me I had been 'too familiar' with them at Eastbourne and certainly no-one has ever walked off the dance floor - at this or or any other festival. I have danced probably 30,000 times and with hundreds of different women.

In the years since this notice appeared (2015/16):

I have had no women complain to me, let alone walk off the dance floor

Graham Knight and similar people have tried soliciting women asking whether they had any complaints about me. In other words looking for trouble when none had been reported.

I have never been approached by any of the stewards or directors and told there was a complaint against me.

Five months were allowed to elapse from the date of the 2016 festival before I received the 'notice' below - and with no opportunity for any discussion allowed.

So where are all these complaints? Where are the witness statements?

In any case, in the modern age it is surely not for people like Graham Knight or organisers such as Robin James or Maureen Knight to act as surrogate parents to women in their sixties and seventies - they can surely look after themselves! Do they not have tongues in their heads?

In rare cases, where one or two women don't enjoy swinging rapidly, I simply slow down. All they have to do is ask! In the case of Irish Set workshops in 2016 they simply found another partner. Much Irish Set is supposed to be fast and furious and newcomers are often 'thrown in at the deep end' (examples here).

eiffsept2016.jpg (37256 bytes)

The missive received from Maureen Knight late in September 2016.

It is to be noted that at the 2016 festival I had made a point to record all comments made to me by dancers - because I had been told the committee were 'out to get me'.

The only comments worth recording are those here - from women who particularly asked me for dances because they enjoyed my enthusiasm, maybe as an antidote to the general staid correctness of so many other men.

No attempt was made ever to discuss any purported complaints with me - an important point because I had been given no opportunity to put my side of any case before the 'committee' decision.

This is in stark contrast to the more considered (and arguably fairer) complaint policies of (for example) Cambridge. (add links)

Emails to and from Maureen Knight are given below. Note particularly the failure to respond to requests to provide information, including the identity of the rest of 'the committee'. Maureen is at the front of the photo, Robin James at the extreme right.

Emails received from dance partners at Eastbourne - most of my favourite partners are women I just meet at festivals - I don't know many of their surnames or which clubs they dance at regularly - so I have no means to contact them to ask for further emails - save contacting every dance club in the country! Also emails to and from EIFF. Before publishing my dance diary for 2016 I emailed Maureen Knight to confirm that the note received in September was indeed genuine.

November 2016.

Steve, Steve, Steve, what is the world coming to that you feel you can't come to Eastbourne, what a shame.

I don't know all the ins and outs but on the bright side, you have always said it is a long way for you to travel. Just as it is for me to get to Sidmouth.

And you have always said how poor Eastbourne is compared with Chippenham. So why worry?

I can't imagine you calling, try and video it for me!!

I've hardly been out and about lately, been having my kitchen completely re-done - a lot of work and disruption, but worth it of course.

Good to hear from you.

(From a dancer I only ever meet at Eastbourne)

November 2016.

I think its disgusting that you are not being sold a ticket for Eastbourne.

(part of email from folk dance caller in the Midlands)

Part of my reply:

Eastbourne is a vendetta, the pretext will be a few dotty women complaining about my swinging (etc). Many others ask me to dance - they enjoy the energy and flirting I bring to it.

I'm writing it up.

Unlikely to do Lichfield again.

7 January 2017

Hello Maureen,

Please confirm that you sent me a note dated 23 September 2016 re: attendance at EIFF stating you didn't wish me to apply in 2017.

I'm publishing reviews and other material shortly. I wouldn't wish to misrepresent you on the basis of a possibly spoof document.

Some of my principal EIFF dancing partners consider your stance (on the EIFF tickets page)  to be absurd.

Others - for whom I have no email addresses at present - will have to read the published summaries.

I was taking notes in 2016. As for your attempt at justifying semi-legalised thuggish behaviour I assume you meant to say antisocial, rather than unsociable behaviour?

Quite a few people regard you as variously difficult and priggish (and not only at Halsway club) , but these are not hanging offences, merely characteristics that have to be tolerated.

Thank you for the confirmation. I may wish to apply this year (and before 12 Jan deadline) - please send me the form asap. If I am too late to book my usual accommodation I assume all motorhome spaces are now taken?

Nice to see you looking so well at Graham Wood's birthday dance.

Steve W.

12 January 2017.

Good morning Steve

The letter dated 23 September 2016  requests "that you do not apply to attend any future folk dance festivals at Eastbourne" and was sent from the Directors of EIFF

22 February 2017

Maureen Knight / EIFF.

Thank you for the confirmation.

I have not seen or been informed of any complaints of any significance. Why wait 5 months before telling me that there was any purported problems in 2016 and why not seek any discussion or conflict resolution at the time or shortly thereafter?

Indeed, as is now documented, 2016 was characterised by more women at EIFF asking me for dances - and these in addition to those in my usual small 'select group' of partners. I am hereby applying for a ticket : you can refuse a ticket as you decide, I can complain it's a hate crime and we'll take it from there.

What actual evidence do you have apart from statements from people (including members of your committee) who hate or dislike me for various reasons, many of these linked to STS articles? You need to actually refuse my application to trigger any formal complaint, and for me to involve the schools in publicity.

Can you confirm the full names of all the directors who were party to your note of 23 September please.

The bank details you need to return funds are Lloyds sort 30-99-21 a/c 02979433 and confirmed here: seered.co.uk/bank.htm

The first tranche of material centred on Eastbourne is on the April diary link from this 'highlights' webpage: http://seered.co.uk/folkdiaryhigh.htm

A first draft of legal issues is here - there is a long way to go before these are likely to be clarified. http://seered.co.uk/folkclub15.htm

Can we move this forward now please? Might see you this evening anyway.

Steve W.

No reply received.

25 February 2017.

Maureen,

Please send me the application form for EIFF 2017. Thank you.

No reply received.

1 March 2017 (email to a couple of dance partners).

Hello [name]

It's that time of year again for booking folk festivals.

You probably know that EIFF have told me not to apply for a ticket (i.e. they will refuse to sell me one) - all part of a long running dispute - Robin has disliked me for years for a start and it is all tied into Monty Crook banning me from his Bridport ceilidhs owing to a dispute at another club - but done on a pretext.

I've decided to write it all up.

I would like to ask you - if you are going to EIFF this year and if so (and if I eventually get to go) would you still be brave enough to agree to dance with me?

Eastbourne has always been difficult to get partners unless I get regular dances with my 'favourites' of which you are one of course. Without that certainty, there is little point in going - it would be as bad as Lichfield (and I'm unlikely to go there again).

It's a constant struggle to find partners I actually want to dance with. I'm not bothering with Towersey again either - wonderful atmosphere in good weather but the ceilidh dance music is so loud these days it's become almost painful.

The links are many and varied but start here: http://seered.co.uk/folkdiaryhigh.htm and also: http://seered.co.uk/folkclub16.htm

some initial legal stuff: http://seered.co.uk/folkclub15.htm

Steve X

1 March 2017.

Hello Steve

No, not going to Sidmouth (haven't been for a few years now), but I will be at Eastbourne and Chippenham this year.

Yes, happy to dance with you if you get into Eastbourne!

J X

Folk diary page for April 2016 (EIFF month)

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